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Flipping Negative & Positive Space

Lesson 3 from: 7 Abstract Art Painting Techniques

Amy Wynne

Flipping Negative & Positive Space

Lesson 3 from: 7 Abstract Art Painting Techniques

Amy Wynne

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Lesson Info

3. Flipping Negative & Positive Space

Flip old art habits on their head with this lesson on swapping foreground/background, negative and positive shapes, transforming organic objects, and more.

Lesson Info

Flipping Negative & Positive Space

So sometimes when I'm working in an abstract way, I actually start withdrawing, I actually start with um making line and then I work into shape. So that's what we're gonna do you in this lesson and not only that but we're going to work in a way that is not up to you. Like the results in the end. Um Aren't something you're going to be able to control in terms of the drawing because we're gonna be working with something called blind contour drawing which is a really liberating way to draw. And I'm gonna show you it. And basically the rules of the game are that you're drawing something, you're observing something but you're only looking at the thing that you're observing and as you're observing it you're not looking down at your paper and you're moving your hand very slowly to record what you're looking at. And I'm gonna show you this and I'm gonna, what we're gonna be working with is a an orange, a little clementine orange. And um I want to show you like the result of this which is quite...

abstract. You don't really know what the result is gonna be. But the lines are very organic. It's a continuous contour line. And in the end we're gonna play a little bit with painting in some different types of spaces to create abstract patterns. So you need some kind of, well just something to draw. It doesn't have to be appealable. Appealable fruit. Like I like working with fruit, I like it because as you start peeling it we're gonna do it in like five stages as you start peeling it, you start to activate often your sense of smell, your sense of touch. And so that sensory activation can be a really amazing connector to create a practice. So we're gonna be peeling fruit. You need something to draw, possibly something that can be changed through peeling or cutting. You're gonna also need a couple of L shaped pieces of paper perhaps because this is what's going to ultimately help us choose the section of the drawing that we want to paint into. So, cutting yourself to pieces of L shaped, 90 degree angles, simple out of pieces. Xerox paper would be just fine. These are cut out of a map board so that map board has a little bit more stability to it, but you don't have to do anything that permanent. And then ultimately, some kind of brush that would be good for ink and any kind of ink that you might have. If you don't have ink, you could dilute some water color, but it's nice to have a dark pigment whatever you do. So, these are the basic materials that will that we will use. I'm gonna put the ink on the side for now and the brush and are cropping tool because at first we're just going to draw and I also want to point out this pencil later in the lesson, you'll see a little bit of the potential of this pencil, but this pencil is actually a water soluble colored pencil, meaning that you could make a mark and then if you add water, it turns into paint and that's something we'll explore later in the course. But I thought it might be kind of a nice thing to work with, knowing that ultimately we're going to be painting in some spaces and perhaps it will dissolve and make kind of an interesting color. So you could also just use a regular pencil for this. That would be totally fine. So, I'm gonna take you through this blind contour process. I'm using a paper that has a little bit of a heart. It's like a multimedia paper. Um it's something that I know when I put ink on it, it's gonna hold up. Okay, so that might be something you want to try. And this paper is, it's not huge. I mean, you could use a larger paper. I would recommend not working too small with this because we're working on flow and there's going to be a little bit of a travel to to the page as you'll see. So I don't find this particularly this shape particularly interesting right off the bat. I mean it's it's beautiful, but it's not something that I say, oh, I really want to draw that, but when I cut into it and start to peel it. Mm hmm. Immediately. I smell that citrusy smell that gets my senses going and gets me kind of activated. So now that I've opened it up a little bit and turned it sort of on its side. Now that's a shape that I could work with. That's something that has a little more variety. So here's the thing, you're going to put your drawing tool down on the page somewhere and that's the last time you're going to look down until you're done with this particular drawing. So I'm gonna talk you through my process. And then ultimately, when you try this out, you have to be your own. I cop and not look down and cheat in the middle because this is blind contour. So my eye is only now on the clementine and I'm going to begin moving my pencil. And as my eye moves across the form, my pencil is moving at the exact same speed, breathing maybe if you think you're going slow enough you slow it down a little bit more. I'm noticing as my eye moves across the form, my pencil is sinking up with that it's moving at the same pace. It's moving with the same kind of attitude. And this is a real connection of eye mind and hand. And it's an incredible way to trust the fact that if your eyes are seeing something, the hand can follow so oftentimes we really get caught up in looking at our image that we're drawing and we spend less time actually looking at the looking at the object that we're drawing, alright. So now I'm gonna say that's about it for that one. All right, So that's the first drawing and that's fine and And I'm not gonna judge it because I know I'm gonna do more. So I'm gonna peel a little bit more off of the clementine. I'm gonna hold it in a slightly different way and once again I'm gonna start blind. I'm gonna start right on top of this one. So here I go, I'm moving my pencil. I'm not looking at my drawing and the beauty of this is that you know, you have uh not a whole lot to do with how this ends up coming out in the end. So, you know, it'll be what it is and you can just have fun with it, you can have fun with this connective practice. You'll notice that I'm not lifting my drawing tool. I'm actually um keeping it moving because I'm not looking down if I actually put my drawing tool off the page, I won't really know where to go, I won't know where to put it back down. So I'm just creating a continuous line and in a way in the end. Like if you if the line was a piece of string, you could pick it all up at once. Alright, there's my second one, Okay, I'm really loving the smell of orange and the peel fell off. No big deal. I'm gonna peel it a little bit more and I'm gonna start again and you might want to you know, you might want to play with the arrangement a little bit. Alright, here we go, we're gonna do a few more of these and I'm also playing a little bit with the pressure that I'm putting on my pencil so that, you know, there's a sense that maybe there's areas that inspire you to draw a little bit lighter, like across the edge of the peel, where the sun's hitting it, or areas that you want to draw a little darker where there might be like a little crevice in the fruit and it's a flow, it's a continuous contour flow. And I find myself relaxing, like at first I was a little like, what's this going to turn out like? But actually the act the sort of act of moving the eye and the hand simultaneously can be a deeply sort of grounding process. Alright, there's another, we're gonna do two more. I think this one, I want to start to open it. See the nice thing about having a piece of fruit like this is that you can start to sort of open it up a little bit and reveal each time we start, you can reveal maybe something a little bit different. You could also obviously just turn an object in space to do this, but there's again something about the reveal deal of the unexpected, the reveal of the beauty of the interior of something, it's like a mystery being revealed. So this might be just again something that you might want to use a piece of fruit for or even like a head of garlic, You could peel and open up. Um So either way it would be a very sensory situation. I'm gonna lift my hand a little bit because I see that I am heading underneath with this peel here. You could also draw your hand if you're holding your object, but I'm opting just to really mostly just draw the fruit. Great. Alright, one more. I like how it's sort of like a slinky, like it's kind of coming across the page in a cool way. Um Alright, let's try, it's getting very juicy, there's juice, there's like, you'll see what the juice does to the pencil line. Here we go. Alright, let's do with one last one, it's like a tumble of wedges here and I'm not drawing super small, like I'm actually allowing myself to draw like a little bigger than the object itself, because I'm interested in filling the page as much as I can. Alright, great, Alright, so that's my blind contour drawing of this clementine. My hands are all sticky and they smell great. So now the next step is to possibly choose two sections that you find to be particularly interesting. So this in and of itself is an abstract drawing kind of beautiful in my opinion, but now, maybe you want to start to think about um choosing sections. So this is also a way that you might play with um generating abstract painting, which is, you know, to do something and like a drum loops and you want to hold this down to do something like a drawing like this and then choose your favorite parts. Like choose a couple of sections and then we're gonna play with what you might do with those. So that's one part I like, I like sort of the density of it. And then another section I like is over here. And the beauty of these movable, this movable framework is that it's movable so that you can decide you want to crop out of square or maybe you want to do something more rectangular? All of that is fair game. Alright, so those are my choices. I'm sticking with them. And it's okay if you have a little fruit on your painting, that's okay, multimedia is, is fun. So, so now I'm going to take a bit of ink and on this side, I'm actually, I'm gonna stay in the boundary that I described here on this side. I'm gonna paint in sort of the background painting. What I'm considering the background of the object now, it might be sort of tough to discern, like what's the background, what's the foreground? What's the object? What's the back space? But you can kind of play with it in a way that hopefully will be satisfying once you start, there aren't really any hard rules about it. So, I'm gonna start to paint in the background. This is a walnut ink, it's uh I love the color, the brown color and you can see now that it's moving from linear to painterly. It's moving from an image born of just line into an image where the line starts being taken over by shape and it's really moving into a painting. You know, it's moving into more of a painting. They're still drawing involved for sure. But the painting is starting to take over and I really love seeing these background shapes become more dominant, more interesting. It starts to highlight the shape of the fruit a little bit more and you can start to kind of get into these little areas and highlight them. So, this is a really nice example of how you can use the background shapes to make a bolder image and really make something pop. I'm gonna do this one last little shape up here. Great! All right, now, that's one possibility. But we can flip the space too. So rather than painting in the background, we can actually choose elements of the fruit itself and highlight those to see what kind of patterns, abstract patterns those make. So this is all about curiosity. It's all about choosing interesting shapes. There's no rule as to what shapes you might choose to paint in. But now, rather than painting what's behind it as far as I can tell in terms of like discerning what's in the back and what's in the front. I'm trying to take little shapes that are, that occurred through the drawing process and highlight them with the paint. Play just a little bit with um how that might feel a little different than painting in the background. And sometimes I'll sort of notice how one shape flows into the next or I'll notice where there might be like a curvature that's emphasized by painting in one shape and leaving the other unpainted. So you can see how these two images as I'm developing them really start to take on a different personality. They start to take on a different sort of attitude because this one is very much about popping a form forward and this one is about sort of this um dance of shape and how these smaller shapes interact with each other. So blind contour drawing, amazing thing to try to kind of get out of your own way and try to create a situation where you're developing an image to work with. That wasn't up to you that wasn't dictated by your habitual way of working, it's a very connective practice if you're connecting through the senses, it's a connection of I mind in hand and and then once you have this beautiful abstract drawing, shopping around doing a little window shopping with your viewfinder and finding a couple sections to paint in flip a bit and use those as source material for for further abstract work. So I highly recommend giving it a try, play with flipping space, play with water soluble pencil and ink and see what happens.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Abstract Painting Color Wheel
Transparency & Opacity
Color Wheel
Color Wheel Template with Neutrals
Abstract Painting Materials

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